Influenza activity is now widespread in Ohio. The Ohio Department of Health says there are increasing reports of influenza-like illnesses in more than half the regions in the state.
During this flu season, which started in October and likely will continue into spring, 833 influenza-associated hospitalizations have been reported to ODH. The highest number of such hospitalizations has been reported in northeast and east central Ohio, but activity in other parts of the state is quickly increasing.
At this time during the 2012-13 flu season, 1,922 hospitalizations had been reported in the state.
Health officials say symptoms of influenza can include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Although most people fully recover from the flu, a small portion of people do experience severe illness (like pneumonia and respiratory failure), and sometimes the flu can be fatal.
While vaccine provides the greatest protection against the flu, other effective ways to reduce the spread of illness include washing hands frequently, or using alcohol-based hand sanitizer; covering coughs and sneezes with tissues, or coughing or sneezing into elbows; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and staying home when sick and until fever-free for 24 hours without using fever-reducing medication.